VirginiaÂ’s Tides Inn is an off-the-beaten-path vacation destination. By, Teri Borseti
With popular coastal destinations like the Caribbean, Florida, and Hawaii to contend with, Virginia might not be the first place that comes to mind when one thinks Â“vacation.Â” But maybe it should be. While Williamsburg and Jamestown are well-known destinations, the stateÂ’s waterfront has a lot to offer. The Northern Neck of this state is bordered by numerous rivers that provide bucolic waterfront settings. Just minutes from the Chesapeake Bay, The Tides Inn in Irvington is a hidden treasure thatÂ’s located in a quaint town of just 600 people.
Founded in 1947, the hotel, with just 106 rooms, provides an intimate experience, and its staff caters to guestsÂ’ every need. ItÂ’s no wonder the Tides has become a favorite getaway for politicians and their families who want to escape Washington, D.C.
Spacious vista suites overlook CarterÂ’s Creek, off the Rappahannock River, where a new marina accommodates large yachts. Guests can do as much or as little as they like, with on-site activities including tennis, golf, bike riding, swimming, Frisbee golf, kayaking, cove cruises, and fishing. The family-friendly destination also offers plenty of activities for kids, including crabbing and sailing lessons, while the compound provides a safe environment that puts parents at ease. Rainy days can be spent in the enormous parlor, where games and computers are available. A waterfront setting at the full-service spa is ideal for enjoying a Tides of Change Massage, anti-aging Tides of Change Facial, or Ginger Essence Hot Stone Massage, all of which will leave you relaxed and renewed.
Dining here is a seafood loverÂ’s dream. At The Chesapeake Club restaurant, fresh oysters melt in your mouth, and local crabs bring incredible flavor to its crab cakes. No stay would be complete without trying the signature Lancaster Lemonade, a refreshing cocktail that goes down easy on a hot summer day. And donÂ’t miss out on the nightly beachfront sÂ’mores made over an open fire.
Many families return to the Tides year after year, making it a great setting for weddings and reunions. ItÂ’s also a perfect destination for corporate meetings, as distractions are few. Pet owners will delight in knowing that the inn has several pet-friendly rooms where pets are treated as well as guests are.
Irvington is surprisingly accessible and can be reached from most East Coast airports. And because Virginia enjoys a longer summer season than that of the Northeast and Canada, vacation time is plentiful. If the idea of having all the amenities of a large hotel blended with Southern hospitality appeals to you, The Tides Inn might be just what the doctor ordered. tidesinn.com.
The Agenda Virginia is fast becoming known for its array of vineyards that produce a host of white and red wines. Stop at Athena and Ingleside Vineyards, where tastings are offered, and ask the Tides concierge to pack a picnic lunch. athenavineyards.com; inglesidevineyards.com.
Irvington and surrounding towns are steeped in history, and one would be remiss to skip a visit to ChristÂ’s Church. Built in 1735, this architectural gem still offers services. Another worthwhile stop is the Steamboat Era Museum, which is within walking distance of the Inn. steamboateramuseum.org, christchurch1735.org.
Most towns in the county are rural with large farms and minimal population, so a visit here is a little like a trip to Mayberry. Locals wave or say hello wherever you go, and since there are no chain businesses, all restaurants and stores are privately owned. Streets here are safe and clean, and visitors can feel at ease taking a stroll at night. ItÂ’s like a trip back to the 1950s. Be sure to visit Westmoreland Berry Farm, where you can pick your own berries. westmorelandberryfarm.com.